Deck of Cards

Ace of Hearts: eleven push-ups.  No problem.
5 of Diamonds: five pull-ups.  No problem.  This won’t be that bad.
Four Cards Later
Joker:  25 burpees.  Well, at least that one is out of the way.
Two Cards Later
Joker:  25 more burpees.  Oy. This might be rough.

At this point.  Only ten cards into a deck of fifty-four (jokers stay in) I realized the workout was going to be significantly more challenging than I’d imagined.

The Deck of Cards workout works as such:  for each suit you assign a particular exercise.  For today diamonds were pull-ups, hearts were push-ups, spades were flutterkicks, and clubs were air squats.  You shuffle the deck and do the number of reps according to the card you turn over.  Face cards are ten.  Aces are eleven.  Jokers you make something challenging and extra-hard.  Today it was twenty-five burpees.  I also pushed myself to complete each exercise with full range of motion.  It worked for the push-ups and squats.  By the end of the workout the my legs were barely moving on the flutterkicks and I was primarily doing jumping pull-ups.

My downfall in underestimating the workout was the math.  I didn’t put together just how many reps of each exercise I’d be doing.  I mean, you’d have to get pretty unlucky to do more than a max of fifteen or so at a time, and with proper rotation it shouldn’t be that bad….  It caught up to me.  With a full set of two through ten, three face cards, and an ace it totals ninety-five reps of each exercise.  Ninety-five  air squats isn’t bad, ninety-five push-ups properly broken up is very doable, but I got wrecked by the pull-ups.  Late in the workout I drew multiple diamonds in a row that completely fatigued my arms.

Despite its deceptive difficulty (more likely because of it) I really enjoyed the Deck of Cards.  The random aspect of the workout had me focusing on going hard the entire time instead of trying to be strategic with my energy so that I could make sure to complete everything.  I did catch myself trying to count cards at a couple points but promptly lost track as fatigue set in and I had to use all my mental energy to complete each exercise with good form and intensity.

The workout is beautifully simple.  Pick four exercises.  Pick something nasty for the joker.  Shuffle up some cards and have fun.  You can do it in your living room or you can orchestrate it to involve all the complex machinery your gym has to offer.  I chose a relatively balanced approach today:  a pull, a press, legs, and core.  You could easily destroy your core with four core exercises.  You could do it as an all legs day and dread stairs for a week.  You could do all ring exercises and be a total badass.  Four different Olympic Lifts would be particularly demanding.  (Too much?)  The combination of simplicity and randomness make Deck of Cards an excellent way to add variety to a dull workout routine with the added bonus of funny stares at the gym as you flip over cards and do two reps of one exercise followed by eight of another.

Deck of Cards

Diamonds: Pull-ups
Hearts: Push-ups
Spades: Flutterkicks (4 count)
Clubs: Air Squats
Jokers: 25 Burpees
Time: 18:24

Sunday Cooking WOD (al la Melissa Joulwan):
3lbs Citrus Carnitas
2lbs Garlic Browned (Grass Fed) Beef
2.5lbs Grilled Chicken (Brined TYVM)
2.5gal Chicken Stock
1doz Hard Boiled Eggs
Double Batch of Mashed Cauliflower
A Gigantic Pile of Veggies
Ready for the week?  Check!


Gamblin’ Man

    • Happy to give the shout out. I keep recommending the book. It’s a great introduction into eating Paleo by jumping straight to good food, and the science can be easily back-filled with Wolf or Sisson.

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